November 3, 2023



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40% of Customers Believe Food Trucks Shouldn't Receive Tip


Currently, food trucks have become a popular dining choice among young people in the United States. These mobile restaurants on wheels not only provide convenient and affordable food but also often offer novel and unique dishes, incorporating the owner's special regional culture to cater to various dietary preferences.

Due to low investment costs and their inherent flexibility and adaptability, the U.S. food truck industry is experiencing a noticeable growth trend in 2023, increasing by nearly 10% compared to 2022.

The main driving force behind this growth is the Millennial and Gen Z demographics aged 18-44. However, an interesting phenomenon has emerged: according to a recent survey by Forbes Advisor, 40% of respondents believe that food truck services should not receive tips. Among them, loyal fans of food trucks express the strongest opposition to tipping.

In the heated discussion about tipping, a new survey by NEXSTAR found that both Gen Z and Millennials are the least fond of tipping. Particularly when faced with pre-set tip options on electronic payment screens, such as 18%, 20%, and 22%, these groups are most likely to complain and express resentment.

In the ranking of those who believe tipping is unnecessary: the food truck industry takes the top spot (40%), followed closely by fast-casual restaurants (38%) and food delivery services (36%). This indicates that many diners associate tipping more with table service than with the service involved in the food preparation process.

Although the tipping issue has been a subject of heated debate, this deeply ingrained cultural factor is not likely to change overnight. With the continuous evolution of tipping habits and technology, one consensus that most people can agree on is that the quality of service is crucial to the amount of tips.

Over 70% of respondents state that the quality of their dining service directly influences the amount they choose to tip. In addition to service quality, personal budget, waiting time, and order complexity are also important factors affecting tipping.

Expert Opinions

Etiquette experts believe that tipping is generally not necessary for takeout. However, if the budget allows, it can be used as an opportunity to express gratitude to service personnel.

Interviews with food truck staff by authoritative magazines found that food truck service personnel have different views on expected tips, but most believe that a few extra dollars or 10% of the total cost is justified for food preparation and service.

Etiquette experts agree with this perspective and remind consumers to establish their tipping strategy based on their actual situation.

Strategies for Food Trucks

As a food truck owner, to enhance the customer dining experience and encourage voluntary tipping, consider adopting the following strategies:

  • Create Novel and Unique Foods: Food trucks often offer menu items that traditional restaurants do not have. This is because food truck owners can flexibly experiment with different ingredients, flavors, and cooking techniques.
    Food trucks can also focus on specific regional or ethnic cuisines, providing customers with new and exciting culinary experiences.
  • Entertainment and Social Experience: In addition to food, food trucks can provide entertainment and social experiences for customers. Many food trucks have vibrant colors and unique designs, making them visually appealing.
    Some food trucks also offer seating areas or live music, creating a social atmosphere for customers. Therefore, dining at a food truck can become a fun and memorable experience for customers.
  • Avoid Asking for Tips Before Service: This makes it difficult for customers to express appreciation for excellent service through tips and may create negative emotions and pressure for customers to tip.
    Prompt customers to tip using electronic payment methods only after they have received their food and fully enjoyed the service. However, always present the tip prompt with a warm smile and words of gratitude to express appreciation for the customer's patronage and the pleasure of providing service.

These strategies can contribute to a positive customer experience and may increase the likelihood of customers voluntarily tipping food truck service personnel.